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Joe Morgan and Moneyball

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Postby AcidRock23 » Mon Aug 16, 2004 1:11 pm

I think that it will be very interesting to see what the As do in the off season this year. They 'trade Zito' rumor has been floating for a while. Can Harden just be plugged into his slot or will they be the big 2 1/2. In the trade market, Zito would have to be a bit devalued unless he goes nuts the last month. Even then, will he really command 'Cy Young' $$$ in the marketplace? I don't think so!

A lot will depend on how the rest of the year plays out. I was kind of thinking Texas was about 'done' but they keep hanging in there. Anaheim could easily erupt like they did at the end of the 2002 season, getting hot at the right time and get Colon away from the buffet long enough to ice the season. Oakland? They seem to really be struggling lately, even though they are 5-5 in their last 10 games. If they swap Zito for some 'bargain' type of players, guys perhaps analogous to Scott Hatteberg, I would give the theory that Moneyball is, in fact a theory that IS practiced, more credence. If they do something more 'old school' (perhaps, like Zito for Kent or one of the Baltimore 2B that have been rumored?), that would seem to back up Joe Morgan who I am suspecting thinks that Moneyball is a catchy, rhetorical construct.
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Postby Amazinz » Mon Aug 16, 2004 1:27 pm

Tavish wrote:The book was somewhat misleading when it talked about how Zito was viewed by scouts. He was a surefire first round pick, the A's taking him at #9 overall was not a case of them grabbing a steal that others missed.

I disagree with this. If Zito was surefire then why wasn't he drafted #1 overall? Zito was no doubt a talent who would have been drafted round one if the A's hadn't drafted him. But you had three HS pitchers and one college pitcher selected prior to Zito: Josh Beckett, Josh Girdley, Kyle Snyder and Robert Bradley. The non-pitchers who went before Zito where Josh Hamilton, Eric Munson, Corey Myers and Brandon Garbe. How much of an impact have these players had in comparison to Zito? They obviously saw something in Zito that the 8 major league organizations who drafted before them missed.

Now one draft does not make or break a drafting system but if everyone in baseball knew how Zito was going to turn out is there any doubt that he would have gone #1 overall? And isn't it interesting at least that using Sabremetric theories to judge prospects spit out Barry Zito? If the A's had selected #1 overall they would have selected Zito.
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Postby Pogotheostrich » Mon Aug 16, 2004 1:30 pm

Even as bad a Zito has been this year, there is no way he passes waivers. Same with any decent 2B with NY still playing Wilson there.
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Postby AcidRock23 » Mon Aug 16, 2004 1:36 pm

That's very true re the As potential moves. I'm just going by a couple of things that have been bandied about for a while.

I still think that that the As actions this offseason may say something about Moneyball as a theory. W/ so many of the conversations taking place in 'smoke filled rooms', I am not sure we'll ever really know if its all just a crock or not but it does make an excellent story.
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Postby Amazinz » Mon Aug 16, 2004 1:52 pm

Moneyball is just a strategy that combines using Sabremetrics and stock market strategies in order to remain competitive in a system where you start with an inherent disadvantage. Say what you want about "Moneyball" but Beane's system has already been successful.

Some people like to use the argument that the A's haven't won a World Series. Well that's not a valid knock against Beane's strategy. Remember that Moneyball is a strategy that allows Beane to remain competitive but it isn't necessarily the best strategy overall or the one he would employ if he had access to the Yankees' payroll.

For me the situation in Boston is very interesting. I think it will be fascinating to see how that team evolves in the coming years. They are going to have the ability to spend money and judge players based on the new age statistics and ideology.
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Postby AcidRock23 » Mon Aug 16, 2004 2:27 pm

but those 'new age statistics' aren't that 'new' as they were first conceptualized during the 60s and 70s. It may be that Moneyball was the first widely popular discussion of OPS, questioning the value of batting average as a stat, etc. outside of Bill James' small group of diehards, but I still think that it is very likely that most of the other teams would have been well aware of those theories and also would have access to enough computing power (visicalc was first released in like 1978...I used to use it for Statis-Pro stats back in the 80s!!) to crunch numbers, just as the As were depicted as having done. They just didn't get the benefit/ curse of the publicity that came along w/ the clever book.

Why else would the Bosox have been so hesitant to deal Youkilis BEFORE Epstein took over? Look at his physique!!
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Postby Tavish » Mon Aug 16, 2004 2:33 pm

Amazinz wrote:
Tavish wrote:The book was somewhat misleading when it talked about how Zito was viewed by scouts. He was a surefire first round pick, the A's taking him at #9 overall was not a case of them grabbing a steal that others missed.

I disagree with this. If Zito was surefire then why wasn't he drafted #1 overall? Zito was no doubt a talent who would have been drafted round one if the A's hadn't drafted him. But you had three HS pitchers and one college pitcher selected prior to Zito: Josh Beckett, Josh Girdley, Kyle Snyder and Robert Bradley. The non-pitchers who went before Zito where Josh Hamilton, Eric Munson, Corey Myers and Brandon Garbe. How much of an impact have these players had in comparison to Zito? They obviously saw something in Zito that the 8 major league organizations who drafted before them missed.


I think you are missing my point. Zito was going to be picked in the first round by someone (ie a surefire first round pick). He had the same guarentee to succeed that any prospect does, which is none. The Moneyball book made Zito out to be a scrap heap guy and that the A's saw something that no one else did, and that is completely untrue.

Now one draft does not make or break a drafting system but if everyone in baseball knew how Zito was going to turn out is there any doubt that he would have gone #1 overall? And isn't it interesting at least that using Sabremetric theories to judge prospects spit out Barry Zito? If the A's had selected #1 overall they would have selected Zito.


Zito was picked by Grady Fuson, not by Sabremetrics. Sure stats had something to do with it, but Zito was selected during the reign of the "old school" scouting department, as were Hudson, Mulder, Chavez, Tejada, Giambi, and Crosby (along with several other blue-chippers who were traded away for the surrounding cast members). Looking back on a draft makes things pretty easy, I doubt Blalock would have gone in the third round that year or Crawford in the second with hindsight. Prospects are hit and miss, the minor and major league development coaches can have just as much impact as the scouts who make the picks. Unfortunately Lewis left Peterson and the minor league coaches out of the book an attributed everything he could to the genious of Beane.

Until the players drafted using Beane's scouting method gets enough time to develop then it hard to call it successful. There are already a couple of high school players from the draft who are beating his "more prepared" college players to the majors so in that sense it hasnt been as successful as the book made it out to be. So far Beane's trades and free agent pickups have been much more successful than his drafting techniques, but it way too early to pass judgement on a draft class only a couple of years old.
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Postby Amazinz » Mon Aug 16, 2004 3:02 pm

AcidRock23 wrote:but those 'new age statistics' aren't that 'new' as they were first conceptualized during the 60s and 70s.

Late 70s is when they really began picking up steam. What I meant by "new age" is that they are only recently becoming accepted by the people who matter most and those are the people inside baseball.
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Postby Amazinz » Mon Aug 16, 2004 3:16 pm

Tavish, Moneyball did not make Zito out to be someone the A's found on the scrap heap. Or at least that's now how I interpreted it. I think the point was that Beane wanted the person who was a close to being a sure bet in the draft. They used Zito's college stats to come to that conclusion. Hindsight is 20/20 but it appears that he was correct. The teams who drafted before the A's were willing to risk the draft on H.S. pitchers with more upside and they based their decisions on subjective evaluations rather than evaluations that were also supported by college statistics.

K.C. chose a college pitcher too. They had the same stats to work with that Beane did and yet chose Snyder over Zito?! Maybe it's just a crap shoot and K.C. got unlucky. According to the book baseball people weren't as high on Zito as you're suggesting and if they were why did K.C. select Snyder?
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Postby AcidRock23 » Mon Aug 16, 2004 3:27 pm

yeah, I never really noticed it until I started doing FBB a couple of years ago as I laid off baseball for quite some time during the late 80s/ early 90s but I do find it hard to believe that anyone who'd have a job as a major league scout would be unaware of a number that could be used to rate players floating around. If other teams are also using OPS and devaluing batting average and W/ L and other 'old school' stats, that would invalidate any thesis that the As were somehow unique in their approach to that. Certainly the story is very compelling and perhaps if/ when Theo Epstein's biography is written he will illuminate this a bit more, to explain what other stuff they can possibly do. I am really convinced that the 'Sabremetric revolution' is a myth. I am kind of suspecting that's the point of Joe Morgan's criticism of 'moneyballism'


Amazinz wrote:
AcidRock23 wrote:but those 'new age statistics' aren't that 'new' as they were first conceptualized during the 60s and 70s.

Late 70s is when they really began picking up steam. What I meant by "new age" is that they are only recently becoming accepted by the people who matter most and those are the people inside baseball.
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